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Navigating Tough Landscapes: Social Isolation and The Friend Drama

Coming to college is great – you get to meet so many new people, from all walks of life. But sometimes, things can get a little messy – with your friends from back home, your friends here, or the lack of thereof. It’s harder to navigate how to deal with all of these social aspects when your thrust into a completely different environment every semester – with new classes, new teachers, new coursework. Things in college change all the time, and that changing landscape can strain on your interpersonal relationships.


When I first came to college, I expected to have this massive group of friends right away. To somehow, magically, be assimilated within a day or two. I didn’t really expect that with a campus as large as BU, it’s hard to find the people for you. I was lucky enough that my “isolation” phase only lasted about a month into college, but for some, it can last for over a year.

There’s always more reasons why you may not be able to assimilate. You might just be stuck with classes – sequestering you to places like Mugar and Law. It might be because you prefer to stay at home and play video games, or watch Netflix. Or, of course, your classes just conflict all the time – college gives you so much flexibility to be able to schedule, that you may be ending classes at 9 pm, while others end at 1 pm.

Some find that later in their college life their social life begins to die down a little. They may value time a little more – to the point that not eating with someone in the dining hall means that you’re able to get in and out faster. Prepping for exams and papers means just studying all the time, and since things tend to get a little crazier as you go on, the more time you’ll spend studying.

How to cope

Finding small personal projects is always a big thing. Trying to learn a new skill – maybe take up guitar finally – or actually read all the books you borrowed from the public library. Taking up a side hustle would also be a great way to use any pre-existing skills and make some extra cash.

Funny enough, when I asked people what helped, a lot said group projects. And it makes sense, if your group is cooperative enough. Being able to talk to someone outside of class, and then see them later in the day makes for a form of a forced study group. For me, this was mostly lab partners – which could work for almost any science kid.

Finding mentors can always help. Find someone who is older than you, or even the same age, that can help you navigate through different areas. I often ask a friend if I can just stick with them at club events if I feel isolated, and it makes all the difference. It becomes a form of a safe harbor at different events – so if you decide not to talk to different people, you might not be alone.

That being said, going to club meetings and events actually helps! Cliché, true, but it does. In my last semester, I became a little freer and was actually able to immerse myself in a couple of clubs that I wasn’t able to before and I’ve never felt more at place at BU.

And for those who are graduating

It apparently gets better after college. You have a fixed schedule job – which normally everyone has the same schedule. Once you’re done with work – you’re done for the day, and you can socialize after that. Added to that, you don’t have to worry about how much money things are going to cost.

Friend Drama

So, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones and haven’t gone through that tough phase of finding friends in college. One of the fun things about beings friends with people is that people can sometimes suck. Now, they can also be amazing at the same time, but there are always those moments when you face a person and realize that there’s just something that you cannot see eye-to-eye with them on.

And for me, this somehow always happens once a year during spring semester. I don’t know what it is about the spring semester that just triggers different events from unrolling – but it just does. All the friends that you met in the Fall have become super close to you, and somehow you just snap at something so small – or something big. I remember disagreeing about spring break plans, about birthday plans, and then more serious stuff. There’s always some underlying seriousness to why you’re upset, and it’s perfectly normal.

But here’s the thing. We’re all stressed out. Some of us have been having a harder time than others in college. Some may have different things going on in their personal lives that they don’t want to share. There might be some reason that they’re acting the way they are.

And the one way you’ll find out is to talk to them. Talking helps so much. Sometimes it can save your friendship with that person, or make it stronger. Sometimes it can break it, but down the line, you’ll realize it was for the better.

Ghosting people seems to never work. No one will know that you’re mad at them if you don’t actually communicate it to them. Being passive aggressive is never really the healthiest thing.

But what if I’m just a bystander in a group conflict?

The situation: two or more of your friends in your squad are angry with each other, and it’s somehow tearing things apart. It’s funny how very high-school that seems, but with the added tensions that college throws at you, and that sometimes (like with roommates and suitemates) you can see your friends almost every day at every waking hour, things can get more exasperated and the consequences of a falling out can get even worse than when you were younger.

Some people have tried to get friends to talk to each other in different ways. There’s always talking to one individual and trying to reason with them and going to the next – however, this provides the obvious issue that you’ll be (literally) caught in the middle. There’s also throwing them into one room with each other and forcing them to talk to one another.

Either way you choose, the first thing you have to decide is whether or not you even want to get involved in the first place.


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Alizah Ali is a senior at BU. She's working on her biology-premed degree, which finds her often in the quietest parts of the library. She loves coffee and bunnies and running whenever the Boston weather lets her. She's a big advocate for mental health destigmatization and awareness. Follow her on instagram @lizza0419
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